The Washington Redskins return to Fed Ex Field for their Week Nine matchup with the Carolina Panthers on November 4th. Kickoff is scheduled for 1pm. Washington is coming off its second consecutive loss, a 27-12 road decision against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III was held in check by the Steelers’ defense. While Griffin III did not throw an interception, he threw only one touchdown pass, and was held to eight yards rushing on six carries.
Beating the Steelers would have taken an extraordinary effort from the Redskins, considering their season long struggles on defense. But when your receivers drop eleven passes on offense as Washington did against Pittsburgh, your chances of winning go from slim to none.
The Carolina Panthers are coming off a heartbreaking 23-22 Week Nine road loss to the Chicago Bears. The Panthers led late in the game, and had their chance to pull off the road upset. That was until quarterback Cam Newton, the 2011 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, tossed an interception that was returned for a touchdown. The momentum turned, with Carolina eventually losing on a last second field goal by Bears’ placekicker Robbie Gould.
The Redskins hope to get back to their bread and butter on offense: the running game. Carolina ranks 20th in the NFL in rushing yardage allowed. Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris could have an opportunity to get the running game back on track. However, the offensive line must account for Panthers’ rookie inside linebacker Luke Kuechly, who leads the team in tackles with 62. Outside linebacker James Anderson is second with 52 tackles. If Washington can contain Kuechly and Anderson, it could not only help the running game, but it could open up play action pass opportunities for the Redskins’ offense.
The Carolina offense is led by quarterback Newton, who has been facing criticism of late because of his perceived cavalier attitude after recent losses. Nevertheless, he is the undisputed leader on offense who also leads the team in rushing yardage. And while running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams are having substandard campaigns (both are averaging under four yards per carry), they still have the ability to go the distance every time they carry the ball.
The Carolina passing game has flourished with wide receivers Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell, as well as tight end Greg Olsen. Smith provides veteran leadership, as well as a fearless attitude on the outside. LaFell is the receiving corps’ deep threat, evidenced by his 18.4 yards per catch. Olsen provides consistency catching passes over the middle. That’s a lethal combination for the Redskins’ 32nd ranked pass defense to contend with. If Washington is to win this game, they must contain Newton and his offensive mates.
Prediction: The Redskins and Panthers are two teams desperate for a win. Newton needs a win to silence his critics. It will be interesting to see how he responds against a porous Redskins’ secondary. However, this is the perfect opportunity for Griffin III and his offense to get back on track against a seemingly inferior opponent at home. Washington will get the hard fought victory, therefore entering their bye week on a positive note.
Final score: Redskins 30, Panthers 21.